the airstream

Besides the long pier, the airstream stands out as a symbol of the real Furillen. Its position is evocative: standing besides that solitary tree, set against the rough concrete of the slag heap next to it. The airstream points out to sea, giving a view on to the pier that must create a wonderful feeling of space, in contrast to the cramped conditions inside. Here is ethereal beauty juxtaposed with brutal industrialism – the very core of what Furillen represents in my eyes.

furillen-trailer

Like Furillen’s chairs, part of me wishes that this had been all my idea, a product of Footman’s imagination and flair. The potential for the airstream to be played off against different kinds of light, its capacity for sheer moodiness, would be a characteristic move of a sim designer in Second Life.

And yet …

airstream__large

… knowing that there is a real airstream situated at the real Furillen, that you can go and photograph it for yourself, and that you can even rent it for your vacation – these things, for me, make the scene even more evocative and powerful, even more captivating, than if it was just a virtual creation.

Having said that, the Second Life version adds a touch of the surreal that arguably only we can achieve.

Sweet isolation

It is this constant interplay and tension between the virtual and real Furillen that has made the process of building and developing the sim so fascinating.

New light for new times

As the pictures here will testify, I took some liberties with the virtual version of Furillen, using a tree whose wind-battered appearance fits the airstream itself perfectly, and placing it to the right rather than left of the pier.

Homeless

It is a special place; visitors to the sim spend hours sitting inside it or taking pictures of it; it is often the first thing you see when you arrive at the sim.

Solitude

To many visitors – and perhaps even to me – the airstream is Furillen.

Furillen..

those chairs

I would love to claim credit for the line of chairs on the pier, which add a touch of colour, texture and chaos to the monochrome environment of concrete and snow. But like most of Furillen’s best bits, I took my inspiration from the real Furillen. Having said this, I don’t know whether these chairs are a permanent feature of the real island or – more likely – were a temporary art installation or photo op.

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In a slight deviation from the arrangement pictured above, I placed my version of the chairs further right, on the pier. To my eye they work better there, providing a focus of their own – and leaving the airstream to bask in its own glory.

The show...

 

chair 01_016

Although they are not easy to capture in pictures – something odd happens with the LOD – the chairs are so popular that they now have their own Flickr group. There are many very creative images of them, either empty or with one or two people sitting.

But one of my abiding memories of the early days at Furillen is when Mich Michabo turned up and invited a group of her friends to sit. The result was deliciously surreal.

♥Su♥♥pe♥♥r♥♥P♥♥eo♥pl♥♥e

 

the pier

The pier at the real Furillen is iconic: narrowly and seemingly endless, with that old crane at the end, unused and unloved.  My virtual version bugged me from the outset, because it should look like this:

508px-Furillen,_Rute,_Gotland_06

This is beyond my current building skills, so I opted for the simplest option: a single prim, laid flat in the water and textured in the same concrete mix as the land.

Then along came KT Syakumi, a very accomplished builder who I ran into a few weeks ago at the sim. She agreed to take a shot at the pier. What she has built is stunning in and of itself, but all the more so when you compare if to the original pier at the real Furillen. This is still work in progress: the platform needs to be built properly, and we haven’t yet decided exactly how this should be done. But KT was at Furillen earlier today, and what she’s planning is really exciting. So keep checking back.

 

pier narrow b

KT Syakumi’s other work can be seen here and here.

 

 

being alone together

The visitor clock ticked over the 10,000 mark yesterday. That’s the number of visits (not visitors) to Furillen since mid October. The sim is often full these days, and around 350 people come by each day. For a sim that started from nothing in October; was built ad hoc with no grand opening; by an avatar (me) with no reputation; and with no shops or – ahem – sex balls in sight, this is pretty good going.

The interesting question is why. I was chewing this over with Cica Ghost, who in my view is (alongside Bryn Oh) the most all-round talented person on the grid. Her latest sim, Roots, is incredible, a world rich in colour, fantasy and imagination that surely captivates anyone who goes there. But the traffic has been quite low. Roots has not been included in the Second Life Destination Guide despite Cica requesting this. Shame on whoever at Linden Labs has neglected to do this. (Update: Roots finally made it into the guide … and Cica had over 4oo visitors in one night!)

But Furillen was getting high traffic even before it was placed in the destination guide. My theory is that the very active Furillen Flickr group helps a lot, generating the network effects that we tend to see on crowded sims. Second Life is a social game, after all.

Furillen is a sim that, for many people, stands for solitude and isolation. And yet a community of sorts has grown up around it, giving the place a life of its own.

We like to be together, even when we want to be alone.

green chair d

 

minimalist

Most visitors to Furillen comment on the wide open spaces. Some see the emptiness as beautiful, while others see it as desolate, dystopian or even depressing. But all agree that this sense of space defines the sim and explains its impact. Look beyond this, however, and there are other sides to Furillen, such as those found in the rooms of the main building. When I first built the sim, these were designed as standard hotel rooms, but this quickly became quite repetitive and predictable. While one or two such rooms remain, the other rooms have been given up to small-scale ‘installations’, usually featuring furniture of one kind or another alongside other objects that are less likely to be found in a hotel.

Everything here is about simplicity and detail: the precise arrangement of objects in a tightly defined space. These are, I think, the perfect counterpoint to the vast empty spaces elsewhere on the sim.

To me at least, these are like two sides of the same – minimalist – coin.

the cutting room 01_010

anti-cute

In terms of its basic structure, Furillen was built in around two weeks.

I planned the sim by mapping out the lines running north to south (the pier) and east to west (the trees; the electricity poles). Every structure, slag heap, tree and road was represented by a single prim block. The sim’s underlying symmetry may be difficult to see now, but it is there.

Besides distinct geometrical form, I was striving for a stark, austere atmosphere that I could see in the real Furillen. This proved more difficult to achieve, because every building I initially placed on the sim was in the ‘shabby chic’ style that is now popular in Second Life. Too cute for Furillen …

Then I found the central building of the sim, made by Soyoy. This is not cute. If anything, it is anti-cute.

soy hotel a